Tangled up in Colleys

About a week ago, in Little Warneford Annie, I wrote this-

Robert is one of the Skipsea branch of Colleys. They settled in Filey for many years, but I haven’t yet happened upon any that sleep here eternally. So, I am unlikely to extend their pedigree on FST.

There is a Skipsea Colley buried in St Oswald’s churchyard – so I feel duty-bound…

I intended writing about the Three Wives of George Colley today. The names of two are remembered on this headstone.


In loving memory of LOUISA, the beloved wife of GEORGE COLLEY of Cliff Terrace, who died May 21st 1860, aged 39 years.

Also, two children of the above who died in infancy.

Also of GEORGE COLLEY, who died April 10th 1866, aged 59 years.

Also of SARAH, relict of the late GEORGE COLLEY, who died Dec 6th 1866, aged 33 years.

George and Louisa married at St Oswald’s on 29 April 1852. Five weeks or so later, one of Francis Smith’s guests wrote to a friend…

“Cliffe House, Filey, June 6th, 1852.

“Dear E—-, – I am at Filey utterly alone…Do not be angry, the step is right. I considered it, and resolved on it with due deliberation. Change of air was necessary; there were reasons why I should not go to the south, and why I should come here…

“I am in our old lodgings at Mrs. Smith’s; not, however, in the same rooms, but in less expensive apartments. They seemed glad to see me, remembered you and me very well, and, seemingly, with great good will. The daughter who used to wait on us is just married…

Believe me, yours faithfully,

“C. Bronte.”


Cliff Terrace is just around the corner.


I think this was where George and Louisa set up home and brought four children into the world. The infants mentioned on the monument were both called Sophia Mabel.

About a year after Louisa’s death, George crossed the Humber married Sarah TOYN in Spilsby and returned to Cliff Terrace.

Their first child, a son they called George Toyn, lived to the age of 77. Their second, daughter Emma, survived for just a week after her christening. When George died the following spring he was possibly unaware that Sarah was carrying their third child. A widow, she died giving birth. The boy’s birth and death were registered under the name “Stillborn Colley” on the 7th of December. (The “6th” is clearly inscribed on the headstone.)

This afternoon, I found a census record which put a question mark against George’s first wife. Other censuses caused me to wonder if George was perhaps the uncle of the Robert Dixon Colley mentioned at the beginning of this post. With several Filey Colleys beginning their lives in Skipsea it would be a surprise if they were not related by blood. As things are, the Shared Tree is keeping them apart. George needs parents, several children and two wives on FST. There’s more work to be done.

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